Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Ah, summer! The scholarship, the sun, the books! I just read a terrific book I want to recommend to our readers: Martin Clark's The Legal Limit. The book has been out for a year, and is now available in paperback.
I begin with caveats. First, Random House sent me a copy of this book; I assume the company wanted me to do exactly what I'm doing. I'm okay with that because I'm disclosing it, and, more importantly, I love the book. Second, the book is set in rural Stuart, Virginia, about 40 miles from where I grew up in Hillsville, Virginia. The thrill I get in seeing places like Pandowdy's Restaurant in Mt. Airy, North Carolina factor into the plot of a novel from a major publishing house may not be shared by all.
Without giving away too much of the plot, the book follows two brothers who are victims of an abusive childhood: Gates and Mason Hunt. Gates, the older brother, falls into dealing drugs and sponging off his mother. By contrast, Mason goes on to law school, and, eventually, becomes the Commonwealth's Attorney of Patrick County (of which Stuart is the county seat). However, the brothers have kept a secret that threatens everything Mason has worked to achieve.
The book is both entertaining and enlightening. The plot is gripping, and Clark does a superb job with character development (but, hey, every novel can't have a TortsProf as action hero!). I can attest that he evocatively conveys the atmosphere of a small town in Virginia in the 1980's. Additionally, the book raises questions about the relationship between law and justice, and the proper place for loyalty in both.
Martin Clark is a circuit court judge seated in Stuart, and the author of two previous, well-received novels: The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living (love the title!) and Plain Heathen Mischief. Writing fiction is challenging (my mother writes), and the fact Judge Clark can do it well on top of his day job is impressive.